Archive for February, 2012

The Real Book Experience (with ads)

February 18, 2012

The Real Book Experience (with ads)

Note: this is a work of humor. The Real Book Experience app does not actually exist. 

Ed: “Hey, Sula, come check out this new app I got!”

Sula: “What is it?”

Ed: “It’s called the Real Book Experience. It’s a front end to Amazon, but it’s pretty cool. They made it for people who miss the old book-buying experience.”

Sula: “Okay, show it to me.”

Ed: “Right. So, I’m going to buy this book, right? I click the Buy button and…see that little guy?”

Sula: “Sure. Where’s he doing?”

Ed: “That’s supposed to me. I could pay for an upgrade and upload my picture for the avatar. He’s getting my wallet from the bedroom. Isn’t that cool?”

Sula: “I guess. Why is he wandering around back and forth like that?”

Ed: “I’m not sure. I’ve only done this a couple of times…he’s never done that before.”

Sula: “Wait, he found something!”

Ed: “Yeah…oh, those are the car keys! I guess he couldn’t find them.”

Sula: “That’s pretty funny.”

Ed: “I like it. Now he’s going to get in the car…and there he goes!”

Sula: “I like the way the scenery looks.”

Ed: “Did you notice the stores? Egghead Software, Woolworth, Levitz…”

Sula: “What about them?”

Ed: “They are all chains that went out of business.”

Sula: “Pretty clever. “

Ed: “Yeah.”

Sula: “Ed?”

Ed: “Yeah?”

Sula: “How long does this driving part go on?”

Ed: “It’s about twenty minutes, I think. Do you want me to skip to the next scene?”

Sula: “You think?”

Ed: “Ha, ha. Okay. He’s stopping the car.”

Sula: “Is that the bookstore?”

Ed: “Gas station.”

Sula: “Oh, come on!”

Ed: “Okay, okay…I’ll skip it. You might want to watch it some time, though. A guy in a uniform comes out and cleans the windshield…and gas is thirty-three cents a gallon!”

Sula: “After we passed an Egghead?”

Ed: “They kind of mix all that old stuff up together.”

Sula: “Could you just skip to the bookstore part?”

Ed: “I already did.”

Sula; “Why hasn’t the car stopped?”

Ed: “He’s looking for a parking place.”

Sula: “Whee.”

Ed: “Wait, wait…he’s getting out now. See, he’s going in the bookstore!”

Sula: “What’s that big blue eagle?”

Ed: “Oh, that’s just an ad. I got the free version, so I see ads. That one’s for the Post Office. I guess they figured people who liked shopping in bookstores would want to buy stamps, too.”

Sula: “Now what?”

Ed: “Now he’s looking for the book. If you tap the shelves, you can see all these old paperback covers.”

Sula: “Can you buy one of those books?”

Ed: “That’s not part of the app. I think they made it so it would work on the iPad, too…no shopping in the app.”

Sula: “Is he…leaving the store?”

Ed: “Yeah…they must not have had the one I ordered. Hey, hey, hey…don’t walk off! He’ll try another shopping center.”

Sula: “How long does that take?”

Ed: “It depends. Maybe ten minutes, but he might stop for lunch.”

Sula: “You’re kidding!”

Ed: “Nope. Last time, he went to a Pioneer Chicken. One time, he went to a Hollywood Video before he went into the next bookstore.”

Sula: “This is driving me crazy!”

Ed: “I don’t get it. You used to love going to the bookstore…”

===

:)

This has been a joke. :) The Real Book Experience does not exist, as an app. I was telling my Significant Other about someone who wanted Kindles to come with an ambient sound option…and somebody else thinking that meant the sounds of turning pages. :) I just extended that idea…

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Round up #70: what I read where, Android gets Real Page Numbers, buy a couch and get a free Kindle Fire

February 16, 2012

Round up #70: what I read where, Android gets Real Page Numbers, buy a couch and get a free Kindle Fire

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Kindle for Android updated with Real Page Numbers

I had heard there was an update to Kindle for Android, which I have on my Samsung Captivate.

Before updating, I wanted to record some stats:

Version: 3.3.0.405

Storage:

  • Total 31.91MB
  • Applications 13.39MB
  • Data 18.52MB

Then I updated the app by going to the Amazon Appstore on my phone, and then to My Apps, and choosing it to update.

The update took (both download and installation) took about a minute or so.

Under What’s New, it said

  • Reduced app size
  • Real page numbers: track your progress with page numbers that matched the printed book. Available for thousands of titles in the Kindle store
  • Several bug fixes

I opened a book with page numbers, and yes, they displayed. When I used Go To, that also gave me the choice to go to a Page…and told me my current page.

After the update, my information was:

Version: 3.4.1.1

Storage:

  • Total: 28.79MB
  • Applications: 204KB
  • Data: 28.59MB

As you can see the Applications memory was reduced considerably.

Data is a lot higher, which is interesting. I did remove the book I downloaded from the device, so I’m not quite sure what that is. It could be the APNX files that download with page numbers, but I thought those were pretty small, and I don’t have many books on it. Still, it is smaller overall.

Does this mean Real Page Numbers are coming to the Android-based Kindle Fire?

Maybe. :)

The Kindle Fire doesn’t just run the vanilla Kindle for Android app.

The version number on my Kindle Fire (which I got to by doing Settings Gear – More – Applications, All Applications) is 4.1.2.12. Maybe that’s the same one that runs on other tablets, but it isn’t the same as my phone.

“Would you like a free Kindle Fire with that couch?”

Thanks to Maggie Woods, who alerted me in this

Bufo’s Amazon Author Central page thread

about an “It means something, but I’m not quite sure what” advertising deal. :)

Gardner-White, a furniture store in the Detroit area with heavy rotation TV ads, is giving away a free Kindle Fire with a purchase of at least $1599:

Gardner-White ad

They do exclude electronics, so no big screen TV for your Amazon Instant Videos to go with watching them on your Fire…but you could get a couch, and couches and Kindle Fires do seem to go together. ;)

A book for every place, and every place with a book

I’ve mentioned before about how I used to keep different paperbooks in different rooms in the house…and I’d read which ever one happened to be where I was. :) I like jumping from book to book, and that’s clearly easier with a Kindle.

However, I was noticing today that I’m reading different books on different Kindles. :)

  • Wonders in the Sky: Unexplained Aerial Objects from Antiquity to Modern Times by Jacques Vallee and Chris Aubeck. Vallee is a brilliant author, but I’m not liking this book anywhere near as much as some of Vallee’s earlier work. I read this one on my Kindle Touch before going to sleep
  • Inside Pee-wee’s Playhouse: The Untold, Unauthorized, and Unpredictable Story of a Pop Phenomenon by Caseen Gaines. I’m enjoying this one! Paul Reubens didn’t talk to the author…apparently, planning to write “Pee Wee’s” history of the show at some point. It’s interesting, all the inside stuff. I understand it from my own background…how it can be every person for themselves. I’m sight-reading this one on my Kindle Fire
  • The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers. I read this one on my Mindle ($79/$109 model). It’s interesting…this is a well-respected book, and certainly, some of it is striking….but it also comes across to me as a bit contrived. I can see how people absolutely love it, and I don’t want to take anything away from that. I would say it requires a certain mindset, like the “willing suspension of disbelief” for science fiction/fantasy.
  • A Princess of Mars (I’m not linking because I’m using a text file from Project Gutenberg) by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I’m listening to this in my car on my Kindle Fire, using Droid Talker and text-to-speech, I wanted to go back through this before the John Carter movie is released, although I’ve read the whole series before. You can see some of the inspiration for other work in it…and it’s fun to speculate about what will and won’t be in the movie.

So, I may get up in the morning, read a bit of Ballad, write, listen to Princess on the way to work, read about Pee Wee while walking from place to place at work or on a break or lunch, listen to Princess again on the way back, and read Wonders at night.

I know a lot of people read one book start to finish and then move on to a next one. That just has never been my style: how about you?

Xfinity on the Fire

It’s interesting…according to this

Comcast official forum

Comcast has had “teams” working on a Kindle Fire compatible app for months. These are statements from a reputed Comcast employee, and you can see them over the course of a few months. Is the Kindle Fire’s version of Android that different and difficult? Maybe…for me, it took a couple of versions of Netflix before the audio and video were in sync.

Harry Potter and the empty EBR

Speaking of things that are taking a while…where are those Harry Potter e-book editions? No, no, not the pirated ones: those are everywhere. ;) The legitimate ones were expected in October of 2011

Earlier Post

Here it is half-way through February, and there is no sign of them. Unless they are under a cloak of invisibility or something, it seems that producing them may be harder than they thought.

Yes, I’m still sure they will sell millions, and I think the books will be read for decades…but I do feel like the bloom might be off the rose a bit at this point. If it gets delayed until the fall of 2012, which seems possible…will the mainstream hype be the same? I’m not sure…well, for one thing, you can’t show fans lined up to get them in their pajamas at home…ooh, on that free Kindle Fire they got with the couch! ;)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Good author, bad author…does being nice matter?

February 15, 2012

Good author, bad author…does being nice matter?

recent post by Lois Lavrisa in The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing* about “Author Rock Stars” got me thinking.

Authors have fans.

They have loyal readers who will buy everything they write…regardless of whether something is the author’s best work or not.

They want to literally read and own everything the author has written.

Is that because of the experience of reading it? Would all of those high school English assignments and abandoned concepts be as entertaining if the fan didn’t know who had written them?

I’m sure that’s not the case.

Why is that?

What’s the perceived relationship the fan has with the author that imbues the entire oeuvre with a golden glow?

I say “perceived relationship” because in the vast majority of cases, the fan has never met or had any sort of social exchange with the author…except through the written works.

My guess is that most people want to read all those works because of an idealized conception of the author.

Hey, I feel the same way about some fictional characters. I feel that I owe Doc Savage something. I want to support that character, and I’ll buy something even if the “Doc” item isn’t very good. That’s with someone who doesn’t even exist.

While authors “don’t exist”, don’t have an actual interplay with the readers, that sort of loyalty can be sustained.

What happens when a fan actually meets an author?

In some cases, it can strengthen the relationship…in others, it can finish it.

I’ve written before about a great interaction I had with Forry Ackerman, an editor/author I approached at a science fiction convention. No question, that brief exchange elevated “Uncle Forry” even further for me.

However…

Those types of contact are relatively rare. Oh, it’s more common in certain genres…you can go to science fiction convention and have a pretty good chance to actually chat with one of your favorite authors. I think the same thing is true with mysteries and romances…although maybe not quite to the same degree.

In the modern e-world, though, some kind of direct contact with an author is happening a lot more often.

Frequent an online forum? An author may post there. Write an online review? the author may comment on it. Twitter, blogging, Facebook…those are all opportunities for an author to become “real” for readers.

I’ve seen many authors being…incautious about what they say in those situations.

Readers have literally millions of choices. While, in a situation like that, people might think it’s standing out that matters the most, it’s also not getting eliminated.

Potential buyers will reject you in a snap in many cases if you do one thing that justifies ignoring you.

I did some classes where I talked to job seekers about the process that employers went through in looking at (paper) resumes.

The first pass?

Rejecting as many as possible.

Hand-written? Rejected. Perfumed paper? Rejected. Any misspelling at all? Rejected.

An employer might hope to dump 90% of the resumes the first time through…without having to take the time to actually read the content.

I think the same thing may happen with author contacts.

Snarky comment? Rejected. Off topic promotion? Rejected. Not knowing the rules? Rejected.

Any attack on a reader will get you broadly rejected…even if other readers side with you.

I’ve trained trainers, and I talk about that. Students have to see themselves in (literally) the same class as other students. Let’s say a student makes an inappropriate comment. How you deal with that makes a huge difference. You may be more than capable of a witty putdown that will crush the commenter, and that may be deserved.

The other students, though, can’t miss that the trainer (in a position of authority) “punched down” to their level. They will feel some empathy…even if they think the commenter was completely out of line.

Now, if there are students, maybe two like you much better because of your clever vituperation.

You’ve lost the rest of them, though. They are afraid of you…and that makes it much harder for them to learn from you. Their focus becomes avoiding you, rather than standing with you and seeing things from your perspective.

For authors, I think it’s the same thing. Attack a reader, and other readers have to (in the most part) resent it.

If an author is a jerk, people may not even considering reading a book by that person…there are too many options.

That may be different from when book options were narrower. It may have been easier for Hemingway or Wilde…there weren’t a thousand people writing similar things.

I’m not saying those thousand are as good. It’s just that readers look for a reason to stop thinking about an author’s books as a possibility.

We could look at this as a matrix. Where is an author on the “jerk to nice” scale, where are they on the “hack to genius” scale?

Obviously, “jerk hacks” are easy to eliminate.

Also, “nice geniuses” are easy to buy.

What about “jerk geniuses” versus “nice hacks”?

Let’s move the writing scale off the extremes a bit.

Would you be more likely to read a “nice pretty good writer” over a very good writer who had personally insulted you?

I think most people would.

It’s tough to find genius works regardless…I think we tend to read a lot of “pretty good to very good” books.

What do you think? Is increased access making being nice more important for authors? Does it matter, or am I exaggerating the impact of readers’ perception of authors?

* For disclosure, I am a contributing columnist to WG2E. I am not being compensated for mentioning this article, and I was not asked to write this post for them. :)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Round up #69: Stock, Amaphibians, Japan

February 15, 2012

Round up #69:

歓迎, Kindle!

I’ll be interested to hear if you are able to see the characters in that headline. :) I’ll probably check it on my Kindle Fire and on my Touch and maybe my Mindle. :)

CIOL: “Amazon.com to launch Kindle in Japan

The key rumor here is that Amazon may be launching the Kindle in Japan in perhaps April of this year.

That’s not necessarily including the Kindle Fire, of course.

Japan is an interesting market…there is a lot of competition there. While they do consume a lot of mass culture there, what’s big and not big from the USA is more mixed than you might guess. I loved a story when the recent big screen Star Trek was released there about how even hardcore geeks in Japan didn’t know the original series. They know so many things, but they generally didn’t know that one. Perhaps a Star Trek anime would have helped. :)

Amazon’s stock 

wrote about the reaction to Amazon’s 4th Quarter 2011 report. As I guessed, the stock did drop quite a bit at first. On January 31st, the close was $194.44. On February 1st, the close was $179.46. That was a significant drop.

I thought it might recover by Friday, February 3rd.

Well, that was overly optimistic. :)

However, I wasn’t wrong about the direction of the stock…my guess on the speed of the recovery was just too high.  As I write this, it’s been as high as $193.57 today.

So, it might make it today, but at any rate, it has been close to where it was before the report.

I think short-termers tend to react pretty quickly, but over time, you can see how Amazon is trending. It’s up more than ten percent for the year so far. They are in a heavy investment period right now, and it’s unlikely they’ll ever be in a place where they aren’t investing…but I think they’ll reap benefits from the increase in Prime members in the next couple of years.

“The Kindle Multiplier”

One of my most valuable and prolific sources sent me a link to this story in a private e-mail:

Publishers Weekly article

I recommend the article by Jim Milliot. The article reports statistics from a Codex Group survey.

No surprise to me here, but people who own Kindles buy more stuff from Amazon than people who don’t.

It’s interesting, because they compare buying habits of RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle…anything but a Kindle Fire), Kindle Fire owners, non-Kindle owners…and people who own both a Kindle Fire and an RSK.

8% of the people in the survey own both a Kindle Fire and an RSK (I’m just going to call them “Amaphibians” for now to make this easier…portmanteau of “Amazon” and “amphibian”…at home in both worlds, reflective and backlit). 3% own just a Kindle Fire.

Naturally, many Amaphibians owned an RSK before…so they may not see their purchases increase as much.

Still, the article makes it clear: it’s to Amazon’s advantage for people to own Kindles. That doesn’t mean, it my opinion, that they should give them away for free, as some people suggest. I don’t think that someone who got one for free would automatically have the same buying habits as someone who paid more than $50 for one. I think it wouldn’t be justified to extrapolate market increase from lowered device prices to zero device price. It’s like counting every pirated book as a lost sale…that only works if the person who got the pirated copy would otherwise have bought the book. Pirating is bad, in my opinion, but it doesn’t help a case to confuse the numbers.

Kindle Killer blahblahblah ;)

For one device to kill another, it has to cannibalize the sales to a point where the first device can’t survive. You don’t have to cannibalize one of your peers when there is a plentiful food supply.

The “food supply” in this case is made up of purchases. If there was a flat number of tablet buyers of, say, ten million, and a new product took over three million of those, that would mean there were only seven million left for the devices already in the market.

That’s simply not the way it is working right now…tablet sales are significantly increasing. You could introduce a great new product and not have it significantly cannibalize any existing device’s sales. There would just be additional sales.

You may hear quite a bit about the new ASUS tablet:

Android and Me article

It may, in fact, be a very good product and sell quite well.

Even if it’s the greatest piece of hardware ever, though, that doesn’t mean that every potential Kindle Fire buyer switches to the ASUS.  That’s true even if it is vastly better than the Fire (and I don’t know enough to know). That’s true even if you can read Kindle store books on it.

People don’t buy a product just because of the product. They also buy it based on the company, and on their experiences with that company.

If McDonald’s had the exact same meal as a fancy dancy prestige restaurant for half the price, would everybody go to McDonald’s for Valentine’s Day?

Nope.

Part of the reason you go to the restaurant is for the experience…and for the customer service. Sure, the waiter might be haughty, but you don’t have to bus your own dishes. :)

I’m not suggesting Amazon is overpriced…in the case of this ASUS device, it sounds like it will be more expensive than the Fire (although less than the iPad…but that’s not hard to be for an Android tablet).

I’m saying that one reason people buy Amazon products is they like Amazon. That doesn’t change if another great product comes out.

I gave my love a pictures of daisies…but the frame was kind of extravagant ;)

I got my Significant Other a Kindle Fire for Valentine’s Day. We had been planning to get another one…I’ve sort of taken over the netbook for blogging, meaning my SO doesn’t get to check e-mail and such as often.

I did a lot of setting up: pictures of our family in the Gallery, downloaded songs, installed apps…and I set up Pulse to show my blogs. :)  I sent this video in e-mail, to demonstrate that capability:

I got this skin from Decalgirl:

http://www.decalgirl.com/artwork/1465/Daisy-Days

I mentioned yesterday, my SO’s favorite flower is the daisy.

Oh, and I’d been smart: I didn’t change the name of the Kindle until Valentine’s Day morning. That turned out to be good thinking: my SO would have seen a revealing name on Amazon a few days earlier. :)

The gift was well-received. :)

I feel lucky every day of my life. My SO is a big part of that.

I thank you readers for supporting my writing in a way that makes it possible for me to buy an “expensive frame” like that. :)

Hope you had a great day yesterday…and today, and tomorrow, and… ;)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

For Valentine’s Day 2012: To the Daisy by William Wordsworth

February 14, 2012

For Valentine’s Day 2012: To the Daisy by William Wordsworth

The daisy is my Significant Other’s favorite flower. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I give you this poem by William Wordsworth. It’s the first in a series of daisy poems by Wordsworth.

TO THE DAISY

In youth from rock to rock I went
From hill to hill, in discontent
Of pleasure high and turbulent,
Most pleas’d when most uneasy;
But now my own delights I make,
My thirst at every rill can slake,
And gladly Nature’s love partake
Of thee, sweet Daisy!

When soothed a while by milder airs,
Thee Winter in the garland wears 10
That thinly shades his few grey hairs;
Spring cannot shun thee;
Whole summer fields are thine by right;
And Autumn, melancholy Wight!
Doth in thy crimson head delight
When rains are on thee.

In shoals and bands, a morrice train,
Thou greet’st the Traveller in the lane;
If welcome once thou count’st it gain;
Thou art not daunted
Nor car’st if thou be set at naught;
And oft alone in nooks remote
We meet thee, like a pleasant thought,
When such are wanted.

Be Violets in their secret mews
The flowers the wanton Zephyrs chuse;
Proud be the Rose, with rains and dews
Her head impearling;
Thou liv’st with less ambitious aim,
Yet hast not gone without thy fame;
Thou art indeed by many a claim
The Poet’s darling.

If to a rock from rains he fly,
Or, some bright day of April sky,
Imprison’d by hot sunshine lie
Near the green holly,
And wearily at length should fare;
He need but look about, and there
Thou art! a Friend at hand, to scare
His melancholy.

A hundred times, by rock or bower,
Ere thus I have lain couch’d an hour,
Have I derived from thy sweet power
Some apprehension;
Some steady love; some brief delight;
Some memory that had taken flight;
Some chime of fancy wrong or right;
Or stray invention.

If stately passions in me burn,
And one chance look to Thee should turn,
I drink out of an humbler urn
A lowlier pleasure;
The homely sympathy that heeds
The common life, our nature breeds;
A wisdom fitted to the needs
Of hearts at leisure.

When, smitten by the morning ray,
I see thee rise alert and gay,
Then, chearful Flower! my spirits play
With kindred motion
At dusk, I’ve seldom mark’d thee press
The ground, as if in thankfulness,
Without some feeling, more or less,
Of true devotion.

And all day long I number yet,
All seasons through, another debt,
Which I wherever thou art met,
To thee am owing;
An instinct call it, a blind sense;
A happy, genial influence,
Coming one knows not how nor whence,
Nor whither going.

Child of the Year! that round dost run
Thy course, bold lover of the sun,
And chearful when the day’s begun
As morning Leveret,
Thou long the Poet’s praise shalt gain;
Thou wilt be more belov’d by men
In times to come; thou not in vain
Art Nature’s Favorite.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. The poem originally appeared more than one hundred years ago, and is in the public domain in the USA and most countries. 

Round up #68: WG2E, ABA boycotts Amazon, 9″ KF?

February 12, 2012

Round up #68: WG2E, ABA boycotts Amazon, 9″ KF?

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

CNET: “Amazon readying 9-inch Kindle Fire for 2012, analyst predicts

We’re going to hear a lot of predictions going forward about what Amazon may do with the next hardware we see from them…and if history is a good teacher, they are still going to surprise most tech writers. ;)

This is the latest wave…that Amazon is readying a 9 inch tablet for possibly the second quarter of this year.

It’s funny to me that some people are contextualizing this an iPad 3 being a Kindle Fire  killer. :)  That seems the other way around to me…Apple’s the Goliath hardware maker, Amazon’s new to that game, relatively.

“But that is the risk which the strongest always faces in accepting challenges.  If he wins, it is no virtue.  If he loses, it is a cosmic joke for three thousand years.”
–Omne
The Fate of the Phoenix (a Star Trek novel)
written by Myra Culbreath and Sondra Marshak

My guess is still that we’ll see multiple models. One will be a larger version of the Kindle Fire (although it may not have that name, certainly). Another would be a more fully-featured version of the Fire we have now…camera, GPS, and maybe 3G (but not free 3G), and it would be more expensive. It would irritate me a bit, but it might have included text-to-speech (TTS) where the KF1 doesn’t.

I think we might also see a larger full-featured Android device.

In addition to that, we could see more on the reflective screen front. It could be color, and/or it could be a stripped down larger screen model. The Mindle (that’s what I call the low end one now) has been very popular, especially abroad. A similarly limited large reflective screen device might have a real market…especially if Amazon getting Android tablet available overseas takes a while. We might see the Fire overseas pretty soon, though…maybe before summer.

Another clear opportunity? Multiple language menu support on devices other than the Mindle. That could be done with a software update, but again, they could use it as a carrot to upgrade.

They could also announce a phone at the same time, but I think that’s less likely.

Revise and Present: updating your e-book

That’s my latest article at the Writers Guide to E-publishing. I do a post for them on the second Saturday of each month. I’m linking here in case you are interested…that platform is for writers, and while I do address them here, it is a different perspective. Also, I don’t think you are often going to run into Oscar Wilde and Han Solo in the same article, and you will there. :)

My free books…today!

let you know in an earlier post that I was making some of my books free for today (February 12) for my birthday. :) That’s partially an experiment, and I’ve only mentioned it publicly to you readers of this blog, but…yow! We aren’t supposed to reveal specific sales figures, but let’s say that lots of you are taking advantage of it. I can say that at least one of the titles will have more downloaded today than it is has ever sold…by a lot! Thanks! I don’t get royalties on those, but I’m happy to have you read them…they are someone outdated, but I think they still have value. That’s one of the problems with non-fiction and being cutting edge: things change. :)

eWeek.com: Kindle Fire Absence in the U.K. Spurs Protest

I always think it’s an interesting perspective that people are mad at Amazon because they can’t get an Amazon product in their countries. It’s not because they don’t like you: I’m sure Amazon would like to sell everything everywhere.

It just can be complicated. In the case of the Fire, that’s especially true (I commented about this at the link above).

This goes back to people seeing sales on an individual basis, and companies seeing them on a population basis. Amazon may be losing some sales right now…some people might not wait and might get a different tablet. However, Amazon might poison the waters by releasing a tablet when they didn’t have enough market-specific content lined up. They can’t think of it as, “We failed because this individual bought something else.” They have to think of the market overall.

American Booksellers Association boycotts Amazon paperbooks 

Publishers Weekly: ABA’s IndieCommerce Site Dropping Amazon Publishing Titles

As a former bookstore manager, I have to say…this seems like a bad move to me.

While there has been a massive decline in membership since the mid-1990s, this is an important organization of independent bookstores that has been around since 1900. It’s quite possible that your favorite local bookstore is a member.

The group promotes literacy and freedom of speech, among other things.

That’s why it seems ironic that their for-profit site that sells books to bookstores (which they sell to customers) is deliberately not going to carry paperbooks published by Amazon’s imprints.

“Oh, yes, we want you to read and discover other viewpoints…and we’re going to do that by making books unavailable to you.”

;)

Look, I get that they don’t like Amazon exclusively having certain e-books available, and this is a way they can punish Amazon.

However, it also punishes: the authors; the readers; and those indie bookstores.

Indie bookstores need to sell books people want, and they need to have an honest and beneficial relationship with those customers.

Otherwise, those customers (reluctantly for some) will get those books from the internet.

I can absolutely see writing the history of publishing fifty years from now and seeing this move (also made by Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million) being pointed out as bookstores killing themselves off.  I can see how it (and other restrictive selling practices) drove people away from the brick-and-mortars when they had an opportunity to take advantage of the demise of Borders.

This story has some nuances…the bookstores can still order the Amazon paperbooks, but they have to do it a special way.

Back to text-to-speech in the car…on my Kindle Fire!

As regular readers know, I’m used to listening to text-to-speech for hours a week in the car. The Fire did not come the kind of text-to-speech we’ve had on Kindles since the Kindle 2. That has been my biggest negative about the Fire. It just isn’t convenient for me to carry both an RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle) and  my Fire when I am commuting to work.

Well, I was answering a question for somebody in a comment (and I know you don’t all see the comments), and found what is a real game changer for me.

I’ve used apps to access the Pico TTS (text-to-speech) engine which comes on the Fire, but it hasn’t been satisfactory. The biggest problem was that it didn’t know where I stopped in a book…it always started at the beginning.

Well, now I have a free app that knows!

Droid Talker – Free

I need to be very clear here: this does not work with Kindle store books with Digital Rights Management, and probably doesn’t work with those relatively few that don’t have DRM.

I’m an eclectic reader, though…I love older books.

Here’s how this works:

Download the free app.

Get a text file book for it to read…for example, something from Project Gutenberg. I’m going back through

A Princess of Mars

Update: I see that the above link actually opens the book when I access it through the Pulse app on my Fire. Try this one, and long press (see below) the text version:

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/62

in preparation for the John Carter movie being released March 9th.

You can get it on the Fire: go to Gutenberg.org, find the book you want (again, I know Droid Talker works on text-files…it might work on HTML, but I haven’t tested it yet). “Long press” the title…hold your fingertip or stylus on it for about a second. You’ll a choice to save the link.

Open Droid Talker.

Use the menu (horizontal lines in a box at the bottom of the screen) to

Open File

It will be the Downloads folder.

Once it’s opened, use the menu again to choose Read. Don’t click the Speak button, or it will only read one page at a time.

When you are done for that session, click Menu and click Stop. Going to Home won’t stop it, by the way…you can listen to it read while you are doing other things.

When you open it again, it will be in the same place. When I tap Read, it does start at the top of the current page, but that’s not bad. :)

Enjoy! I know I will. :)

Happy my birthday to you!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

It’s my birthday…but I’m giving you the presents

February 12, 2012

It’s my birthday…but I’m giving you the presents

February 12th is my birthday, along with

  • Charles Darwin
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Cotton Mather
  • George Meredith
  • R.F. Delderfield
  • Judy Blume
  • Darren Aronofsky

among many others (I’ve tried to stick mostly with writers in this listing).

I decided I wanted to celebrate by giving you something. :)

After all, you readers (and especially the subscribers…hello, subscribers!) give me so much.

Part of KDP Select (the program through which uses of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing make books available for eligible Prime members to borrow through the KOLL…Kindle Owners’ Lending Library) is the ability to make books free for five days (they need not be consecutive) in a ninety-day period.

I’m going to do that with all of my books in the KOLL, except for my latest, Love Your Kindle Fire: The ILMK Guide to Amazon’s Entertablet. Sales have fallen off a cliff on that one this month, but I think there may be a post-Valentine’s Day bump. Besides, I need some sort of control group. ;)

Please check that a title is free for you before buying it.

I have asked Amazon to make them free on February 12, but I can’t say exactly when it will happen. I think they will also only be free to customers in the USA.

So, you can click on the titles before, but please make sure it is free when you click the 1-click buy button.

The Kindle Kollection: Three Early Books about the Kindle

This one combines three of the below into one volume:

* ILMK! (I Love My Kindle): Being an Appreciation of Amazon’s E-Book Reader, with Tips, Explanations, and Humor
* Free Books for Your Kindle
* Frequently Asked Kindle Questions

You may or may not prefer it as one volume. You can do it either way…or both.:)

ILMK! (I Love My Kindle!): Being an Appreciation of Amazon’s E-Book Reader, with Tips, Explanations, and Humor (Revised Edition)

This has some fun stuff…and other things that are out of date. If you want The Happy Little Bookworm, this one has it. :)

Free Books for Your Kindle (revised edition)

This one has some value for locating sites, although it isn’t up to date…it doesn’t discuss the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL), for example.

Bufo’s Frequently Asked Kindle Questions

Again, somewhat outdated…

The Collected I Love My Kindle Blog Volume 1

This is the first 101 posts in this blog. :) I did 101 posts so I wouldn’t cut off Doctor Watson’s Blog: A Kindle Abandoned (which is a four-part story).

Remember, double-check that they are  free to make sure before buying.

Happy birthday! ;)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Penguin drops relationship with Overdrive.com

February 10, 2012

Penguin drops relationship with Overdrive.com

Back in November, I wrote about the publisher Penguin pulling some e-books from public library lending, then restoring them.

Well, as of February 10, 2012, they are severing their relationship with Overdrive.com, which effectively cuts off most public library loans. There does seem to be ongoing negotiations, but this is definitely a change.

They may work out some sort of continuance program meaning that for now, books that are already in library e-book collections from Penguin will be available. However, they also are prohibiting wireless lending of Kindle editions.

We have to be a bit careful about this. Penguin is not saying that they don’t want their e-books available through public libraries period…just through Overdrive. However, since Overdrive is so dominant, that’s a bit like saying you can use your boat anywhere except the water. ;)

Macmillan and Simon & Schuster (and I believe Hachette) already don’t license e-books to public libraries, and HarperCollins limits them.

Needless to say, there is and will be backlash about this Penguin decision.  This

Media Bistro article

reproduces a sign that libraries can get from Google Docs to explain the situation to patrons.

Let’s make this simple: I think restricting library lending is bad for the public, bad for the publisher. I do think an alternative could be found…I’ve mentioned before that I could see the publishers do direct lending on a needs-tested  basis, for example.

In the short run, though, this is just not a good thing.

By the way, I wrote recently about how to install the Overdrive app on your Kindle Fire…you could get EPUB books from public libraries wirelessly that way…

Feel free to comment on this…and to let Penguin USA know what you think:

 ecommerce@us.penguingroup.com

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Federal judge does NOT legalize selling “used” MP3s

February 10, 2012

Federal judge does NOT legalize selling “used” MP3s

WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH*

There is a recent Federal judge’s decision that is getting some serious “through the looking glass” spin (as well as honest misinterpretation). I’d say the headlines are from Bizarro world, but I think two pop cultural references are enough on this. ;)

Let’s go through the basics on what is happening here and look at what the judge actually said…and what it might mean.

There is a website, ReDigi, that lets people resell “used” MP3s. It’s all done quite narrowly…the music is from iTunes, proof of ownership is part of it, and the person who sells it doesn’t still have access to it. It is understandably attractive to some people who bought music. You buy a tune for ninety-nine cents, and maybe resell it for thirty-five cents…lowers the effective cost considerably.

Capitol Records has objected, and is taking ReDigi to court.

The record company also asked the court for an injunction to stop ReDigi’s activities (as they relate to Capitol) while the case progresses.

Judge Richard J. Sullivan denied the injunction.

Some of the blogosphere interpreted this as the judge siding with ReDigi.

That’s actually pretty much the opposite of what happened.

According to this

transcript posted by Wired.com

the judge said the following (in part):

“I think likelihood of success on the merits is
3 something that plaintiffs have demonstrated. I should bear in
4 mind or at least repeat what the lawyers already know, which is
5 that that doesn’t mean that I’m finding that the plaintiffs
6 would win in this case, it’s just that they have demonstrated
7 that there are arguments that on their face look to be
8 compelling or potentially persuasive arguments. They have
9 certainly done a good job of articulating those based on the
10 statute, which I think covers that element.”

The plaintiffs in this case? Capitol Records.

The reason why a court would issue an injunction (which, in a sense, punishes someone who has not yet been found guilty) is if the accuser will suffer “irreparable harm” while the process is being settled.

In other words, the judge would issue an injunction if Capitol Records was not likely to be able to recover damages even if they win.

In this case, the judge felt that ReDigi is keeping good records, so that if they lose, there will be a specific accounting of what is owed to Capitol.

Let’s say that you have trees on your property that are more than a hundred years old. Another party is cutting down those trees. In that case, a judge might issue an injunction because, even if you win, those trees can’t be exactly replaced. You would suffer a loss that could not be repaired.

As another example: suppose you have a big movie that’s about to come out. Someone is distributing bootleg copies of your movie on the internet. That could hurt your box office in a way that could not be recovered. People might not go to your movie in the theatres, and there might be no way to stop those copies from circulating once they were out in the wild. That would be a reason for an injunction.

ReDigi is not distributing willy nilly. It’s carefully controlled. They are arguing that their customers have a legal right to do this.

If ReDigi wins, ReDigi would have suffered a loss by having their sales stopped while the case went on.

If ReDigi loses, Capitol would not have lost anything for which Redigi couldn’t compensate them.

The judge had to consider other factors than just the sales…would the market be confused by what was happening with ReDigi, and thus hurt Capitol?

The judge’s decision was that there was no irreparable harm in allowing ReDigi to continue until there is a legal decision.

Judge Sullivan also said:

“And as to the public interest, I think obviously the
21 public has an interest in seeing copyright law enforced. On
22 the other hand, that copyright law includes recognitions of
23 things like legitimate secondary markets and the ability of
24 owners to resell their items.”

So, the judge did not decide that re-selling MP3s was legal. The judge decided that there was no irreparable harm in allowing ReDigi to continue while the case continues.

Who will win in the court?

I know enough to know that it will depend on the arguments made. My own sense of it is that the First Sale Doctrine (which is what allows you to resell a copy of a paperbook you bought without getting permission from the rightsholder) doesn’t apply to a license (which is with what we are generally dealing in conjunction with digital content). In other words, it would surprise me if ReDigi won in court, but it could happen.

I think looking at the beginning of this article that I might be being too snarky in the intro. I think there are legitimate, thoughtful people who believe that the First Sale Doctrine does apply to licenses. I was reacting to people headlining something that doesn’t seem to me to be what the judge said…I thought that might be misleading.

I hope I’ve made the case a little clearer. I’ll be interested to see what happens as it goes forward.

* These are from 1984 by George Orwell. As you can tell, they reverse logic, but part of the argument of the book is that people can be swayed in some way by statements like that. In this case, I was (somewhat emotionally) seeing the “judge legalizes” as the opposite of what was the reality. In rethinking this, the judge didn’t say it was illegal either, so that is an exaggeration. However, I can see how “Ignorance Is Strength” applies to headlines that misrepresent the facts, so I’m leaving it. Feel free to let me know if you think I should have removed it…I’m a bit on the fence myself
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Read DRM EPUB books on your Kindle Fire

February 10, 2012

Read DRM EPUB books on your Kindle Fire

“…except for the Kindle Fire.”

See, that’s the problem about having named the Fire a Kindle. It’s very different from what I’ve had to retronym* RSKs (Reflective Screen Kindles).

One of the standard Kindle comments on the forums is that you can’t read EPUB books with DRM (Digital Rights Management) on a Kindle.

Well, now we’ll have to add that “…except for the Kindle Fire.”

Let me explain that a little bit more.

EPUB is an e-book format made by Adobe. DRM is a way to control the use of a digital file. On RSKs, there isn’t the necessary software to “unlock” an EPUB file with DRM. RSKs also couldn’t read EPUBs without DRM…unless you converted them to a Kindle friendly format. One way to do that is with the free software

 Calibre

Calibre is a great program, and used by lots of people.

Perfectly reasonably, though, Calibre does not strip DRM from files…that could be illegal, and they don’t want to do anything which is illegal (and which, by the way, could get them shut down).

You couldn’t install software to legally read an EPUB with DRM on your RSK, so you couldn’t read those without first (probably) illegally stripping that DRM.

So, here’s why I can now legally read DRM EPUB books on my Kindle Fire.

The Kindle Fire does have the Pico text-to-speech (TTS), but it’s not very sophisticated. From my RSKs, I’ve gotten really used to listening to TTS in my car.

Point one:

If Amazon had included a more sophisticated TTS (like Vocalizer, the software they licensed for the Kindle Keyboard and Kindle Touch), I would have been satisfied with my Kindle Fire in the car and wouldn’t have been looking for something else to which to listen.

Point 2:

Amazon hasn’t approved the Zinio magazine reading app in the Amazon Appstore for my Kindle Fire. I got a magazine subscription as a gift that needed Zinio. That’s what broke down my resistance to putting a third party app on my Kindle Fire. I really like how Amazon set that up: they vet and approve Kindle Fire apps in their Appstore, but allow us to install apps from outside sources if we take responsibility for them:

Settings Gear – More – Device – Allow Installation of Applications From Unknown Sources (ON)

If the Zinio app had been approved for my Kindle Fire in the appstore, I might never have installed an app from outside Amazon. I trusted Zinio (a large established company) and they told me their app would work on my Fire. It has, and I’ve been very happy with my subscription.

So, those two things combine in the next step.

I decided to install the Overdrive.com app on my Kindle Fire…so I could borrow MP3 format audiobooks from my public library directly from my Fire. I don’t like audiobooks as well as I like text-to-speech (I know…weirdo) ;) , but I like them better than talk radio.

I switched the setting on my Kindle Fire to allow the installation of an outside device, and went to

http://www.overdrive.com/

on my KF.

I tapped on Get Overdrive Media Console.

I tapped on Android on my right, which then let me tap on “download OverDrive Media Console for Android from OverDrive.”

As usual, my Kindle Fire gave me the notification in my top left corner of the screen that it was downloading something.

When it was finished, I tapped on that and told it to install.

When that was done, I opened it.

Remember, I was doing this to get audiobooks from my public library…because I wasn’t satisfied with the Pico TTS on my Fire.

When it opened up, it told me I could also install the ability to read EPUB.

I knew that DRM EPUB books could be used with OverDrive, but I hadn’t realized it had the ability to decode them.

I did have to get an ID from Adobe. That was easy…no credit card or anything, just identifying myself. It did seem a bit odd that they seemed to think I was doing it for commercial purposes (I was supposed to identify my job title and industry).

Once I had that, I downloaded an EPUB from my public library through the app…it works just fine.

I also got an audiobook, since that was sort of the point. :) I won’t have any trouble getting through them both in 14 days, I think. My library gives me that (and seven days) as an option…yours may not, that’s up to the library.

This was good to discover, even though I don’t know how much I’ll use the EPUB part. I like to be able to read on my RSKs, and that’s not an option when I do this.

However, I’ve seen a couple of people (including one of my readers, Lisa Brown) noticing lately that there were e-books from Random House in their public library in EPUB format and not in Kindle format. I think they may also be true of Penguin. In the RH case, it’s recently published books, by the way…I don’t know if that’s policy, or if they just need to be converted.

The app has some nice features:

  • An audiobook snooze timer
  • The ability to return the audiobook when you are done (my library limits the number of items I can have out at one time…your probably does as well)
  • Description of the book
  • Lookup dictionary (long press the word…hold your finger on it for a bout a second)…although it only works when you are online
  • The ability to set the screen timeout up to twenty minutes
  • Tap to see book progress…including chapter percentage

A few of those would be nice with the Kindle app on the Fire. :)

Well, there you go. :) If you decide to do it, I think you’ll find it easy and it will give you options. Amazon warns you about it…it’s up to you. I do turn off the “applications from unknown sources” choice afterwards.

It’s just interesting to me: if Amazon had TTS on the Fire or if they had approved Zinio for the Fire, I probably would never have done this.

If you try it and have feedback about your experience with it, please feel free to comment on this post.

* A “retronym” is a change to an existing term that happens in response to a later development, to differentiate the old situation from the new one. We didn’t have to call it an “analog watch” before we had digital watches, for example…it was just a watch. :)

By the way, I took the screenshot from my computer, not my Kindle Fire. The KF doesn’t, as far as I know, do a screenshot without altering it to enable it. I did check to see that it matched, though.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


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